Think Winnie-the-Pooh, The Velveteen Rabbit, and Alice Through the Looking Glass. What leaps into your warm-and-fuzzy memory instantly? The trippy art emblazoned on the minds eye of your inner child, of course. Yet wordsmiths A.A. Milne, Margery Williams, and Lewis Carroll are household names. Distant second in the legend department? E.H. Shepard, William Nicholson, and John Tenniel, who were, respectively, the visionary artists for the above classics. Blot out their whimsy and all that remains are page after page of black-and-white words.
The "Jack Brown Memorial Collection: Caldecott Winners" exhibit gives credit where it's due. The show features the original art of Brian Pinkney, Betsy Lewin, Ted Lewin, David Shannon, and David Wiesner, masters, one and all, of the art of creating accessible, humorous, and indelible images for childrens books. But being a kid isn't a requirement for appreciating these fine artists' wildly innovative works. Put another way, you don't have to be this small to enjoy this ride.
All winners of the coveted Caldecott Medal -- sort of the Pulitzer Prize of Kid Lit -- the five have also individually and collectively garnered heffalumps of recognition. The highly decorated David Shannon is perhaps the best example. His mischievous little alter ego wreaks havoc in books such as David Gets in Trouble, David Smells!, and No David!, the last an ALA Notable Children's Book and New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year in 1998.